The following post was originally posted on this blog on a Friday one year ago, ergo #FlashbackFriday.
I have something to admit. I struggle, often, with feeling inadequate.
According to the interwebs, inadequacy isn’t exactly a unique feeling.
[ed. Oh, great, now I can feel inadequate in uniqueness. Thanks, interwebs!]
As a matter of fact, with the increase of popularity in social media, it seems that more people are experiencing feelings of inadequacy than ever.
After all, you can log into Facebook and find out that the kid who sat behind you in middle school smelling his own farts is now a successful entrepreneur making oodles of cash, while you struggle to find employment. Or the woman up the street can complete a crafting project, take the kids to violin lessons, and whip up a killer outfit, all while you are still sitting on the couch in sweatpants and no bra, watching your kid run through the house pantsless with cereal in his hair.
Or you can spend a few hours on Pinterest looking at the fabulous DIY projects, dinners, room decor, then return to that scarf you started two years ago that looks like it belongs to a hobo, eat dinner from the crock pot that vaguely resembles something you saw in a diaper once, and admire your scratched garage sale and IKEA furniture.
I can’t pin the blame on social media, though. My feelings started well before that.
In my teenage years, my best friend was thin, blue-eyed and blonde, wore makeup, curled her hair, bought cute clothes; it made me suddenly self conscious about my naked face and brown hair pulled back in a simple ponytail. I assumed any boy talking to us was interested in her, not me. I was her plain friend. The sidekick. The comic relief.
In school, I was in Honors classes. Teachers liked me (for the most part), and I had friends. But I’d look at other kids and how hard they worked, and the grades they got, and how popular they were and think, “I’ll never be that.”
Looking back, reality was far from what I saw. I wasn’t the dumpy sidekick. Boys liked me just fine (even if fear of my dad scared most of them off – protective fathers FTW!). I may not have been great with the makeup or curling iron, but I wasn’t any less of a person for it. I was, on occasion, even cute without all that.
I was a Merit Scholar Finalist. I was in Honor Society and several other academic organizations. I definitely didn’t work as hard as I should or could have, but I still was no slouch. (Slouch, no, but slacker, yes…I have the paper plate award to back me up on that one.)
You’d think that looking back on these misconceptions I had about myself I’d learn.
Yet, here I am, 33 years old and I still struggle with the same kinds of comparisons.
I see women my age who strut around in a perfectly arranged outfit, hair and makeup just so, and I feel dumpy and unstylish.
I see people running businesses, creating art, doing exciting things; moms who have their kids on schedules, get them to eat broccoli, and still find time to do all those things on their Pinterest boards. I look at them and feel disorganized and unaccomplished.
I feel frumpy, so I stay in my sweatpants. I feel disorganized, so my desk sits piled with papers and day old coffee. I feel unaccomplished, so I set aside projects, unfinished. Or never even start them.
And therein lies the danger of feeling inadequate. Those feelings can stop us from doing anything.
Finding success, doing more, being better, these things can’t be about being perfect. They’re about looking at a task and fighting those feelings of inadequacy, feelings of not being smart enough, pretty enough, mom enough, anything enough.
They’re about moving forward knowing that we are flawed. They’re about knowing someone might be better, but recognizing that doesn’t mean we aren’t capable or “less than”. They’re about realizing that we may bruise our ego along the way, that we may not get it right the first time, but staying motivated and completing the task anyway.
And that’s what I have to remind myself.
When I look at my photography and think my photos aren’t great. When I look at my kid and wonder if I’ll ever get him to eat something other than cereal and PB&J. When I look in the mirror and can only think, “Blerg.”
To that end, I’ve decided to take a big step. The novel that I finished writing has been critiqued, edited, and is now in final edits. A book cover is in the final stages.
[Ed. A year later, the book is published, was nominated for an award, and has done better than I could have imagined...]
So, rather than let inadequate feelings convince me to store the finished product away in a drawer, I’ll be announcing its release.
Soon. Very soon.
Because it’s not about perfection. It’s about moving forward.
It’s not about being better than someone else. Just better.
Even if the reality is I’m pretty okay already.
I know I’m not the only one who has these feelings, so feel free to share/commiserate in the comments. Have a weekend full of feeling awesome!